Birthday FolklorePosted: May 3, 2013 | |
When I was in college there was a famous gut course called Folklore. Although I myself did not take this course two of my great friends, whom I shall only identify as H & D, to preserve their academic standing, did take it. How I missed taking a course, which is more or less about story telling and more importantly, how I missed taking the easiest class offered at my school, where very few courses were easy, I will never know.
Although I was not enrolled in Folklore, I lived ever class through my friends H & D because they would retell class stories at lunch everyday. Being a friend-group of storytellers we loved talking about how stories got started and continued through generations.
The only real difficulty in this class was at the end of the semester each student had to turn in a paper with 50 original folklore stories from their family. Now most families in America had similar folklore, like Santa and the Easter bunny so the idea that any one student could possibly come up with 50 original ones seemed outrageous. We were sure this professor was collecting all these stories for a future book of tall tales college students wrote.
Since we were second semester seniors when H & D took this course no one took this assignment too seriously, but in actuality coming up with and writing down 50 stories, including the 5 W’s about each story, is harder than any of us thought a gut deserved. The worst part was that any folklore that had been discussed in class was off limits. So things like baptizing babies, or jumping over brooms at weddings or even Price Charming was done, documented and untouchable.
Because I could type quickly and owned a typewriter, (yes I am so old that typewriters where the best technology available. Computers were just printing out on green and white striped paper back then) also because I was good at making up or enhancing stories, I was conscripted into helping D & H with their papers. I can’t remember how many hours we sat in H’s room like Morey Amsterdam, Rosemary and Dick Van Dyke writing the Alan Brady show, but it seemed like days and fun days they were.
We were writing at the time of a friend’s birthday so we came up with one bit of folklore entitled, “Cry on your birthday, cry all year long.” It was the story of how a girl who whined and cried about having a bad birthday doomed herself to have an entire bad year.
Although we completely fabricated this story for the paper, “cry on your birthday, cry all year long” continued to be a phrase my group of friends repeated often. It also became somewhat of a superstition with us that we did not want to test. So it may have started as a whim, but has since actually become folklore.
I used to hate my birthday feeling like it was more disappointing than celebratory. But after working with H & D on folklore I never tempted fate with being unhappy about my birthday again.
So on this day, which is my birthday, as well as the birthday of my cousin Sarah, my friends, Gussy, Tricia, Beth, Ashley and many more I am sure I am forgetting here, I am going to celebrate and promise not to cry. Tears of joy do not count.